If you’re like many Americans, you may find that the New Year’s resolution you enthusiastically made to work out more often has fallen to the wayside in a few short weeks. The key to building a successful fitness routine is just that – it must become a routine, a part of your lifestyle. Whether you’re new to fitness, or looking to update your existing workout, crafting a fitness plan that is sustainable and effective is the key to long-term success. Follow these tips to get started on your own fitness journey:

1. Set Clear Goals

Before you start thinking about what your workout will look like, it’s important to sit down and define your own fitness goals. Each person is unique, so it might be weight loss, stress relief, muscle gain, improved endurance, or something else that’s important to you. Starting out with a clear objective will help you build a routine that will be most effective. Once you know what your larger objective is, it’s important to then outline smaller achievable milestones. This will help keep you motivated and on track for making progress towards your goals.

2. Find Your Passion:

There are so many ways to stay fit that might not immediately come to mind when you think about building an exercise routine. You’ll have the most success with building a routine if you are enjoying the activities that you’re doing. You might consider jogging, yoga, hiking, dancing, swimming, bike riding, or something totally different. When you find something that aligns with your interests, you’re more likely to stick to the routine. And remember, you can always explore new activities until you find the right fit for yourself.

3. Start Slow and Progress Gradually:

Allowing your body time to get used to your new routine is very important. It’s crucial to slowly introduce your workouts, and gradually increase the duration and intensity over time. This will help you to avoid injury and achieve steady progress as well. You can consider starting with lighter weights, shorter cardio sessions, or less intense activities, especially if exercising is new to you. As your body adapts and grows stronger, you can then challenge yourself with more demanding activities or workouts. Listen to your body, pay attention to its signals, and let your fitness journey evolve naturally.

4. Keep It Interesting:

If you are someone who gets bored with routine, keep it interesting by have a variety of activities you can incorporate into your workouts. You can alternate between cardio, strength training, flexibility exercises, or any number of physical activities. You may want to join a local gym in order to be able to take advantage of different types of classes. Be aware of how engaged you are in your workout, and if you find yourself losing interest or getting bored, try changing up your activities to get yourself back on track.

5. Schedule Regular Workouts:

When life gets crazy, the last thing on your mind might be your workout. That’s why it’s key to set aside dedicated time in your week for exercise. Schedule your workouts like you would schedule an appointment or a meeting, add them to your calendar or your planner, whatever helps you commit to the workout. When your workouts are consistent, it helps you to establish your own fitness rhythm and routine.

6. Rest and Recovery

One of the most important, and most overlooked, parts of building a fitness routine is also building in space for rest and recovery. It is crucial to pay attention to your body and how you are handling your new routine. If you don’t allow for proper rest and recovery time between workouts, you may experience pain or fatigue that can lead to injury. Stay in tune with your body, and don’t worry about adjusting your workout or allowing for extra days between sessions if you need it.

Each person’s fitness routine will look different. Remember to be patient with yourself and celebrate the milestones you achieve as you begin working on your fitness journey. Committing to a fitness routine can contribute to a healthier lifestyle and improved mental wellbeing. For more resources on health and wellness, check out our Member Resource Center.